Divorce and Property Division in Colorado

Divorce and Property Division in Colorado

How your marital property will be divided in a divorce depends on where you live, first and foremost. For example, a divorce lawyer in the Aurora area would be able to advise you on Colorado’s particular divorce laws. 

Most states favor an equitable division of property, meaning that the split is fair both on and off paper (versus dividing property in half strictly by the numbers). Colorado is one of these states

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Marital Property vs. Separate Property in Colorado

Property division is an issue in any divorce case, as most people have property, assets, or debts. Before you can end your marriage, you will need to decide who gets what. The first step in doing so is determining what is separate property vs. marital property in Colorado. This is because spouses only have to divide marital property, and they can each retain their own separate property. You want a divorce attorney to help with this process.

Two Types of Property in a Divorce

Marital property refers to what you and your spouse acquired during the marriage. This can include new purchases or the appreciation of property someone already owned. Even if one spouse technically purchases something without the other spouse, the property will belong to both spouses.

Separate property might be something that you owned before the marriage in your name only without your spouse. It also includes inheritance or gifts made to you alone, as long as you keep that property separate from marital funds. For example:

  • If you have an inheritance and keep it in a separate account and do not use the money for marital purposes, you can keep your inheritance as separate property.
  • If you have an inheritance and deposit those funds into your joint account with your spouse, the funds are commingled and can be marital property, which you will need to divide.

If you are unsure whether something must be divided under the law, legal guidance will help. You do not want to risk losing property that you should get to keep, and an experienced Colorado divorce lawyer can help ensure this does not happen.

What is Separate Property in Family Law?

Separate Property

You might be relieved to learn that some property isn’t subject to division in a divorce. Instead, it is entirely owned by one spouse. No matter what happens with the rest of your assets, your separate property will be yours to keep. Separate property can include property that was:

  • Brought into the marriage by one spouse
  • Received by one spouse during the marriage as a gift or inheritance

Suppose separate property has been used to purchase or invest in something for the benefit of the marriage. In that case, the situation can get more complex. For example, if one spouse receives an inheritance and uses a portion of it to purchase a second home. If the second home is titled in the names of both spouses, it’s generally seen as the spouse who had the inheritance gifting it to the marriage.

If you received property as an inheritance or gift or brought property into your marriage, you need bold Aurora property division lawyers on your side. They can help determine what is rightfully yours.

What Property is Kept Separate in a Divorce?

Community Property vs. Marital Property

In community property states, the assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered property of each spouse. Community property is split 50/50 between the spouses. However, Colorado is marital property or a common-law state. Here, marital property doesn’t need to be divided equally; it just has to be fair. The court will look at several factors when determining if an arrangement is fair:

  1. Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring the property, including contributions as a homemaker
  2. Value of property each spouse will receive
  3. Current financial circumstances of each spouse, including granting the family home to the spouse caring for their minor children
  4. Changes in the value of separate property during the marriage or the use of separate property for marital purposes

By hiring experienced Aurora property distribution attorneys, you can ensure that your property is equitably divided and that your rights are protected.

How Can Property Be Divided?

These are topics to consider individually and with your divorce attorney when it comes to marital property division:

  • How to determine the value of your retirement accounts (“coverture fraction”)
  • How dividing a certain item could impact your taxes
  • How quickly and/or easily an asset can be sold so that each of you can take your share (nature of the current real estate market, stock market, etc)
  • How to handle property acquired while separated but still legally married
  • Does a “qualified domestic relation order” (QDRO) need to be set up in order to divide a retirement account for a spouse under retirement age
  • How personal inheritances are handled
  • How to remove just one person’s name from the deed of a house, car, or business without having to sell the property
  • Debts must also be divided, not just assets

Marital property that spouses might have to divide can include:

  1. Income and earnings
  2. Retirement savings
  3. Bank and investment accounts
  4. Real property
  5. Vehicles
  6. Business interests

There are many factors that you consider when dividing marital property, including each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, the economic situation of each spouse, whether the property will depreciate if divided, and more.

Often, your attorney can negotiate with your spouse’s lawyer and reach an agreement on how to divide your property. Some complications that might make this difficult include when one or both spouses own a business, one spouse might be trying to conceal assets, or one spouse has no knowledge of the marital finances. Even in straightforward situations, you want to have legal representation for property division.

Reaching out to a property division attorney is the best option when facing these complicated questions.

Is my Wife Entitled to Half my House?

Aside from property division, the court will determine if one of the spouses is entitled to alimony or “spousal maintenance.” In Colorado, for example, alimony is defined as “financial support paid by, or to, your spouse and can be awarded during a divorce, legal separation, or annulment.” A number of factors are generally taken into consideration to determine if alimony should be awarded:

  1. Length of marriage
  2. Age
  3. Health
  4. Work history
  5. Standard of living
  6. Education or professional training

It might not seem too important which city your property division lawyer comes from within your home state. However, it is ideal to have an attorney who knows not just, for example, Colorado law, but who knows the judges and clerks at your local court. Again, an Aurora property division lawyer will understand the nuances of how copies should be submitted or even just tips on where you should park at the local courthouse. A lawyer from the nearest big city to yours may not have those insights.

Prenuptial Agreements

Couples can sign a prenuptial agreement (or post-nuptial agreement) that preserves certain things as separate property. If you know you are inheriting something, for instance, you might set out that all inheritances are automatically considered to be separate property in your agreement. This can help to protect certain property that your spouse might go after in your divorce.

Learn more: Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Property Rights in Divorce

Call an Aurora Property Division Attorney Now

Get all the property you`re entitled to by contacting CNL Law Firm, PLLC, which has extensive experience as property division lawyers in Aurora, Colorado. Don’t risk losing out on a property that you are rightfully entitled to in your divorce. Hiring an attorney can be daunting, so don’t hesitate to read our testimonials and see what our clients have to say about us. Find out exactly how we can help you through your property division situation by calling us at 720-730-4856 or filling out this contact form.

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